In honor of the end of summer and getting back to our regular lives, I’m deeming this week Office Week – during which I’ll share with you my home office makeover. My office has always been a wreck. It’s probably because not only do I lack organization skills, but I hate cleaning things up when they get messy. Recently, it got to the point where I couldn’t even see the top of my desk because it was so covered with papers. The drawers wouldn’t open because they were so jammed with stuff (not to mention my desk was fairly ancient), the floor was carpeted with magazines, books and dropped pens, and the whole room was dark and uninspiring. It was desperately calling for a makeover – so I headed out to IKEA to get new furniture for the room. Here are some of my guidelines for getting started with an office renovation:

  1. Take plenty of measurements. This goes for just about any reno – you want to make sure the furniture fits nicely without looking to crowded or too sparse. Take maximum and minimum measurements with you so you can find exactly what you need.
  2. Pick a color. It should be something that you like and can live with looking at for a long time. My style leans toward the modern, so I picked glossy white – the finish is smooth and it looks clean, bright and inviting. You also want to make sure it goes with the paint on the walls. If your walls are neutral, you can go for just about anything. If you don’t mind repainting the walls of the room, you can pick anything. In my case, my office walls are a bright aqua blue, and it looked terrible with my old medium-light wood desk. The new white furniture has brightened the color and made it look so much prettier.
  3. Pick a store. Plenty of stores have nice desks, but none that I went to have a selection as large as that at IKEA.  They have an enormous selection of desks, all which are surprisingly customizable. I picked a desk from the Vika collection – the tabletops come in various sizes, and they can rest on drawers, cabinets, open shelves or plain legs, or any combination of those. Not to mention everything in the collection comes in a variety of colors and finishes.
  4. Assess your needs. If you’re looking for a long-term investment (even if it doesn’t liquidate your funds), pick something that you can grow with. I would definitely suggest getting a large table top – whatever you have now or think you need, get one size up. This way, you’ll have enough room for accessories as well as a place to do your work. Make sure the desk you pick has plenty of drawers and/or cabinets, too – even if you get more storage than you need, you can spread items out so drawers, cabinets and your desk top are less cluttered. For example, I was able to put my three-tier letter tray on a shelf in my cabinet so it doesn’t take up valuable surface space, but is still easily within reach.

Think about storage. Not everything needs to fit in your desk. You can also get a wall-hanging magazine holder to store magazines and papers in, as well as a basic file cabinet. Bulletin boards hold pictures, magazine clippings, recipes and important papers, and a sleek, floating shelf above your desk can hold things that would normally gather on your desk. While I was at IKEA I also got a cubby storage unit – it’s essentially a large, open square frame divided into smaller squares. I got drawer and cabinet inserts (which convert the cubby squares into drawers and cabinets, respectively) and magazine holders to fit in the squares so I get different storage options. Bookcases are great too, especially if you hoard books like certain members of my family.

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